Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Toru Sakahara - Kiyo Sakahara Interview I
Narrator: Toru Sakahara, Kiyo Sakahara
Interviewer: Dee Goto
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: February 24, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-storu_g-01

<Begin Segment 1>

DG: Let's introduce yourselves. Today is February 24, 1998 and we're here in your home and your name is...

KS: I'm Kiyo Kamikawa Sakahara and we live in a condo. We've lived here for almost fourteen years now. Prior to that we lived in the University District for thirty-four years so we consider ourselves Seattle-ites.

DG: And Toru...

TS: My name is Toru Sakahara and I'm a retired lawyer and I'm over eighty years old so my recall is somewhat retarded. [Laughs]

DG: Excited here to be able to talk to you because you are a second generation Japanese and there aren't too many of them left anymore that knew the old timers. So, Toru let's start with you and tell me about where you were born and when and what you know about your parents and grandparents?

TS: Well, my father's name was Tojiro Sakahara and he was born the fourth son of Yasumatsu and Yoshino Sakahara on January 23, 1894. He entered the United States at Seattle. That was in September of 1908. He was a farmer and later manager of the Puget Sound Vegetable (Growers Association).

DG: Now he was only twelve years old when he came?

TS: That's correct. And he came to join his parents who were farmers in Fife at that time. Later he became manager of the farmers co-op marketing firm in Sumner, Washington. He (naturalized as a U.S.) citizen under the name of Tom T. Sakahara.

DG: Okay, let's stop there a minute, Toru, and let's just talk about your grandparents, because I think it's particularly significant that both of your grandparents were here and they came to where?

TS: To Fife, in, near Tacoma, Washington and the property that I was born at, that I was living at when I was born, is bounded by a highway between Fife center and Sumner, Washington. The other boundary is a creek and we lived in what looked like a u-shaped piece of property about twenty-nine acres. Across the creek at first my grandparents, followed by the Watanabe family, then the Kinoshita family next to them, and across the highway was the Berns, a Norwegian family.

DG: So there was quite a community of Japanese families there. Was your grandparents or your father's family one of the first ones there?

TS: Well, my father's family had a grocery store.

DG: Oh.

TS: And that's all I know about it. We left much, much before I became aware of hardly anything.

DG: Do you know what your grandparents did in Japan before they came? Where did they come from?

TS: My grandparents on my father's side came from Osaka and my grandparents on my mother's side came from Kumamoto.

DG: 'Cause see, 1908 and 1912, they were some of the first families that were here in the United States, 'cause before that it was mostly single men.

TS: Well it's odd that soon after they came the Fife community, the Japanese community, had a Fife Farmers' Association, also a Fife Japanese Language School. So these are some things I found out later but I wasn't aware of that.

DG: So how many families I wonder needed to get together before they formed a Japanese School?

TS: Well, I don't know. At this time, Fife is a sort of a family community with all the farm lands under garden and black top. But the (early) population of Fife was mostly families living on five, ten, fifteen, thirty, forty acre pieces of land that they farmed.

DG: So what did they farm, what did they do?

TS: Mostly row crop farming.

DG: So both of your grandparents, here they farmed?

TS: (The farmers were) mostly Japanese, but there was one Italian company that had about hundred or hundred fifty acres in which large number of Italians worked cooperatively.

DG: So did your grandparents come with the idea that they were going to go back to Japan or did they start putting down some roots here?

TS: The roots, I suppose, were those of us who are still around.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

DG: Your parents got together and they were married, you said one of the first ones...

TS: My father was about twelve when he came and my dad... my mother was about fifteen when she entered the United States. My maternal grandparents (had) left her with my maternal grandmother's aunt and she was very, very lonesome (until) she was about fifteen when my grand father went to Japan to bring her to the United States.

DG: This is your parents that were married...

TS: My parents were married in Fife at the Fife Presbyterian Church as the first Japanese couple to be married in 1915 and I was born 1916.

DG: Your mother was only about seventeen years old when she got married.

TS: She was sixteen years old.

DG: Wow! Were there other brothers and sisters of your parents that came also? So did they bring families?

TS: My father's oldest brother came and settled in Fife, too and he had a family and raised them in Fife.

DG: What about on the maternal side then?

TS: On the maternal side, my mother was the only daughter, so on the maternal side there was just us.


DG: Let's talk about your parents now. They got married in 1915.

TS: I was born one year later exactly to the day, and after my birth, my sister Taeko, (two years later). Her married name is Akamatsu.

DG: How many all together were there?

TS: There were seven and one died at about age three.

DG: So you all lived on the farm there and your grandparents were around you and you had some uncles around you so there was quite a group.

TS: That's correct.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

DG: Do you have some memories about when you were little and what you did?

TS: My earliest memories are working on the farm, basically. And as I grew older, I got more responsibility and we had some people, farm labor, young kids and an Indian family, working for us. I could remember in the real serious Depression years, we paid as little as ten cents per hour. It's quite a stretch from ten cents per hour to what is being paid this day in 1998.

DG: So we're talking about the late 1920s and early 1930s?

TS: That's correct.

DG: Right. And your father, what was he doing at that time?

TS: My father was on the farm. He used to bring the produce from the farm to the markets and he, like many other farmers are unable to dispose of everything they brought to the market. So they had to distribute the excess to various markets. And also if they couldn't get completely rid of their produce, they brought it to the Pacific Fruit which is sort of what they, Nihonjin called nakagai.

DG: Middleman?

TS: Yeah, and they would render a statement after they got rid of the produce by saying so much sold. Usually they took a fifteen percent commission and they then sent a check and the rest they would say, was dumped. That used to get my dad, because he felt that the farmers were being victimized. He finally organized the Farmers' Cooperative Shipping Organization to ship the surplus out of the valley to the east and middle west.

DG: Who were the main markets?

TS: Well, what farmers would do is bring their produce to the shed. People working in the shed would wash and pack the vegetables, load 'em into the (railroad) cars and sometimes the railroad car would be pre-sold before it rolled out of Sumner, Washington. But a lot of times they were not pre-sold, so my dad had the job of comtacting various commission houses on the way to New York City and some he would sell in Omaha, some in Kansas City, some in Chicago, some in Buffalo and some as far as New York City.

DG: Was there any reason why they called it... what was the name of it?

TS: Puget Sound? No.

DG: I mean it was a Japanese organization...

TS: It was a Japanese farmers' organization.

DG: Was there some reason why it was particularly Japanese?

TS: It was just the way it happened.

DG: Were they not able to market their foods some other places? Is that why they formed the Japanese co-op?

TS: No, for one thing, they had the problem of communication in their meetings. For some reason ,they didn't, they never admitted, nor did the Italian farmers seek to be admitted to this organization, that I'm aware of.

DG: Were there other big firms around that they competed with?

TS: No, well, Japanese farmers formed cooperatives in Auburn, Kent, also in Bellevue and they also... so these three associations, used to meet frequently during the year to discuss mutual marketing problems.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

DG: Your father then worked there and what years are we talking about that he started this?

TS: My dad started to work as a manager sometime in the '30s. That left the farm in charge of me and my brothers so I could remember that he would be driving a Pontiac or Buick and I'd have to wash his car and that's all I'd see of him. And he never discussed what he was doing or what he had accomplished. And he would get in his car, drive off, come back. Before he left, he would (tell me): Well today take our (laborers) and do this, do that and do this. And I could remember he used to preach to me and tell me that I've got to get out there to the tool shed, about a half an hour before the labor force came. He (said) we're paying them good cash money and we don't want them to be paid (for) not working and just sharpening tools, so you sharpen all the tools before they come. Also, he had us schedule ten hours of labor and we started at seven, came home for lunch, and we quit at six o'clock. We didn't work after six o'clock, but during the work time, we just worked at full speed.

DG: When you went to school in the winter, did you have to work when you came home, too and things?

TS: We didn't have much time to work except on Saturdays. I could remember that there were some produce that couldn't be sold, for example cabbages and pumpkins, squash, and we would bring them to the store in piles in the barn. We would work on those things for the market during the winter time.

DG: You also went to Japanese school after you went to regular school?

TS: Yeah, I think regular school we got out about 3:20 and from 4:00 to 5:00 everyday we went to Japanese Language School. Sometimes we would study and sometimes we would fool around.

DG: How many kids were in your class?

TS: I just don't recall, just thirty or forty.

DG: Did you walk to the language school?

TS: We walked to the public school which was about a mile from the farm. It took fifteen minutes, walking as fast as I could.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

DG: Did you play around on the way?

TS: Not very much because I remember one time I got home late and my dad wanted to know why in the heck I was late. He slugged me on the head (saying), "That will teach you to fool around." I can remember my mother saying that it's not necessary to hit a kid but I remember it. [Laughs] My dad, it was the only time he ever struck me, so I remember it! [Laughs]

DG: Did he discipline you in other ways?

TS: Constantly, preaching. And as I grew older, I used to object to his preaching and I'd say, there you go again! [Laughs]

DG: So going to Japanese school, did that make you feel different?

TS: In the sense that I was different from the other kids?

DG: Right.

TS: In a way, yes, but in a way we just took it as a matter of course that we had to go.

DG: Did your family eat together for dinner?

TS: Oh yes.

DG: What kind of foods were your favorites?

TS: We had various meats, and sukiyaki and tsukemono and...

DG: Mostly Japanese kinds of foods?

TS: ...oshitashi, hamburger.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

DG: Did you have special celebrations?

TS: Beg your pardon? Oh, we had annual New Year's celebration where my mother would prepare all kinds of delicacies. And notwithstanding that my parents were good Christians, my dad somehow had a supply of homemade sake, and I remember he used to hide the sake in the sawdust pile that we kept for the horses. And I remember I used to have to clean the horses' stalls.

DG: Did they have horses for the farm in those days?

TS: We had to have horses for cultivating and we had tractors. And it was an old farm house. I could remember playing on three or four wagons (in the barn). We never used any wagons, horse drawn wagons on the farm, but they were there in storage. And it was a good thing to play on. Guess I had a lot of fun.

DG: Did you have electricity and everything?

TS: It's a long ways that we have progressed since those days. We had three bedrooms, living room, dining room, kitchen, pantry, outside toilets, pump for water. Then we proceeded to get some running water and we got electric lights. Then we got a electric pump for water. Then from the kerosene lamp, we went to having a gasoline pressure lamp, then to electricity.

DG: So when you were little, you didn't have any of these modern conveniences yet?

TS: Very primitive. But we've seen a lot of changes.

DG: But you pretty much stayed in the same place and so did your parents lease it or did they...? Who owned... did they put in your name?

TS: No, it was always leased and the owner had about five or eight acres of orchard and the rest was, about twenty-nine acres (which) were leased by my parents. And we lived on that farm until the outbreak of war and evacuation.

DG: So you never owned it?

TS: Never owned it.

DG: Oh, you never owned it.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

DG: Tell me a little bit more about yourself before we go on. Did you play baseball?

TS: Yes, the Japanese community was very close. They had a Japanese Farmers' Association, then it became the Japanese Association and they sponsored the Seinenkai which had baseball teams. They had juudou and kendou and all of these teams had competition with teams in Auburn, Kent, Sumner and Seattle. And close to the outbreak of war, there was Class AA, A, B and C leagues of the Courier (Baseball) League. Our parents furnished money for suits and baseballs, mitts. The only thing we brought ourselves was the balls. So we got a lot of support from...

DG: This Seinenkai?

TS: Seinenkai is a youth group.

DG: And that was sponsored by like the older community services?

TS: Well, that I think ultimately became the Japanese American Citizens' League chapter.

DG: What were some of their roles when they were first organized, to build the language school maybe?

TS: The Farmers' Association and later the Japanese Association built the Japanese Language School. And also the members of that organization would donate money to the baseball team, support of the juudou school, support of the kendou school, (etc.)

DG: Oh, they had those also?

TS: Uh-huh so there was competition...

DG: Did they organize the picnics, too?

TS: The Japanese Language School used to have picnics and at picnics there'd be big feasts, some drinking and I remember one... two Issei (men), they loved to drink, they loved to talk, they loved to argue and every year they would end up in a fight, so it was annual entertainment for us kids.

DG: Did they play games and things for the families at those picnics?

TS: There were races for the families, all kinds of games.

DG: Were you one of the oldest kids? Were there other?

TS: There were many, many older kids but they were only about one, two, three, four, years older than me but age wise, if you're older or younger, you don't fool around with other kids of other ages.

DG: They were all Nisei?

TS: That's correct.

DG: I guess I get the... you're almost like a Sansei though.

TS: Generation wise, I'm a Sansei.

DG: Right. 'Cause your grandparents were here.

TS: That's right.

DG: So you were one of the oldest ones who had grandparents here.

TS: That's right.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

DG: Okay, Kiyo, let's talk about your family.

KS: Our family, we were not so structured here in the United States. My father comes from Hiroshima, and when he was about eighteen years old (heard) they were recruiting farm laborers or any kind of laborers in Japan for work in Hawaii. He was a good swimmer and swam out to the boat and he got on ship and was brought to Hawaii along with something like two hundred or three hundred other workers that they recruited in Hiroshima. He enjoyed going to Hawaii, he was young.

DG: How old was he?

KS: He was eighteen years old at the time.

DG: What did his parents do in Hiroshima?

KS: They had farmland which they farmed and their house was up against a hill. They had quite a bit of property, but I think at that time -- my dad used to talk about when he first left Japan -- he just plain was young and full of a lot of youthful spirit and he just wanted to see the world. In Hawaii, he had a very friendly personality and was not bashful about anything. I think he already knew how to ride a horse and there weren't very many workers at that time that would ride a horse, and so he very soon had a job as a foreman of the group. He did very well and after about two or three years of working in Hawaii, he had a chance, he got to meet a captain of a ship that was anchored in Hawaii. [Interruption] After he met this captain on the ship, he got a job as a cabin boy or steward or whatever you want to call it, and he sailed on that ship. He just got on and left Hawaii, just like that, and he ended up traveling with the ship. He went to England and from there the ship went to America and it was in the Boston Harbor. He dove off of that ship. [Laughs] And he swam to shore! In Boston, he (had) jumped ship and I think he had to find work.

DG: What years are we talking about?

KS: We're talking about the (late 1800s), when he was just, about in his early twenties.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

DG: But probably after 1907, when people couldn't come in, see there was the exclusion treaty.

KS: No, it was before then, it was about (the 1890s, near) the turn of the century. He said he washed dishes in restaurants, because doing that he got food. After he watched all of the cooks prepare food, he decided that's what he wanted to do and he took classes in cooking school at night. I think he spent the next twenty years working in different restaurants and hotels and he got to be quite a chef, I guess, in those days. A lot of cooks take to drinking very hard and he became quite an alcoholic. He ended up in Chicago, down on Chicago's skid row, and went into a mission house. The minister at the mission house got him off of the liquor and he became a Christian. He never took another drink, he said, after that and it just changed his whole life. He decided that he wanted to have a family and so he saved his money (to go) back to Japan to find himself a bride. So that's exactly why he went back to Japan. In those days, there was quite a Christian revival in Japan, so my dad was able to meet quite a few people who were Christians. One of them knew about my mother (who) also became a Christian but from various other happenings in her life. But that's how they first met because somebody knew...

DG: But she was already a teacher by then?

KS: Oh yes, my mother was born in Nigata which is on the other side of the mountain, it was in Ura-Nihon and her mother, (because she could have no other children,) was divorced by her father when she was about nine years old. Her stepmother, in order to handle a nine year old who was quite spoiled, kept sending her off to school. So my mother was very fortunate in that sense. She was able to get a very good education for women of Japan in those days. And this was before 1900, and not very many Japanese women got education. And so she became a school teacher and she had an opportunity to go to Korea. One of the... I was talking about the religious or the Christian missionary efforts in Japan and they were going to start a kindergarten in Korea and my mother volunteered for being one of those teachers and since this was a mission, she became, she was introduced to Christianity. And I think she really was converted and I think she taught in Korea for several years and then went back to Japan. And I think that when people talked to her about getting married, she was not that anxious to get married. She was already thirty years old and she saw a wonderful life for her in (Christian education). Evidently her parents and other mission people talked her into getting married so that's how my mother and father met.

DG: Just one note interested me is that when her parents divorced, she lived with the father.

KS: That's right.

DG: And most of them did, right? The father took the children?

KS: Oh yes. The mother was literally sent back home and she just lost out.

DG: I think that happens in a lot of families.

KS: Yes it did. It was a thing that just happened.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

DG: So now let's talk about your parents getting together, coming to America together.

KS: When my father went to Japan, he fully intended to get a bride and come back to America. He was not, he had no intentions of staying in Japan and I think my mother probably welcomed the opportunity to see another country, because she had in her readings and (education), she had studied about America. So they both came with very high hopes of doing some evangelistic work and also doing well in the United States. I know my dad says that when they first landed in Seattle, he looked in the papers and saw an ad for cook in a home, and so he applied for the job and they hired him. But they also expected my mother to do some housework, and my mother had not done any housework in her life at all. She didn't even know how to wash her own clothes, let alone somebody else's clothes! [Laughs] And I think after working a few months there, my mother said they were fired. [Laughs] So my dad decided that that kind of work was not going to feed them. But in the meantime he had saved some money, and they were starting some farms in the South Park area of Seattle, that's where Boeing is right now, and that used to all be farmland. And that's where my brother and I were born, in South Park.

DG: That was what year?

KS: That was in... my brother was born in 1917 and I was born in 1920. The farms there prospered, they did very well, and a group of them got together and found some farmland near Kent, little bit south of Kent, in a little area called Thomas. I think my parents and a few other families got together and built a (group of houses) and they were going to farm about thirty acres together and my dad planned the whole thing. There were living quarters and one large mess hall and one laundry room and they were all going to work together. It was working just fine and somebody was negligent and a fire started in the kitchen and burned the whole place down. I think that was a very sad thing that happened to my parents, because I don't think they ever financially recovered from that. Since my dad was one of the instigators of this plan, they had to declare bankruptcy and I know that my earliest recollection of a place to live was a tent and they, after the house burned down, they had to put up tents and we lived in (them).

DG: In this house, several families lived together?

KS: Yes, uh-huh, well, it was like a dormitory, I think, although families sort of stayed together. There were living quarters and there were places to eat and places to cook and...

DG: You said it was the Katsunos and...?

KS: No, that was different. We lived in this tent and that's when my dad and mother both, went into a partnership with four other, no three other families, the Katsunos, and the Hirabayashis. And they had, there were separate homes for these so we moved out of the tent, that was rather rugged living.

DG: How long did you live in the tent?

KS: It must have been two years.

DG: That long?

KS: About two years maybe... yeah, about two years, 'cause I can remember winters there when it rained and it was so cold.

DG: Were you school age already?

KS: I was about five or six, so that's my first recollection of home, that tent house.

DG: How many children were there?

KS: I had a older brother and a younger sister and I think another... and the next sister from that.

DG: About four of you.

KS: Four of us, about that. Then we moved into this little house and the family farmed with the Katsunos and the Hirabayashis, and that lasted for about two years. Then we moved to another little house up in the Steel Lake area and that didn't pan out so well. It was a nice place to live, as I recall, but then the family moved back down to the farm and worked with the Hirabayashis and the Katsunos again. I can't say what the reasons for their not continuing with that, but it just didn't work out and the family moved to Seattle. My mother got a job...

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

DG: Before you got to Seattle, did you go to Japanese School?

KS: No, never did, never did. There was, I don't think there was a Japanese School in that area, in Thomas. I don't think so.

DG: What about church then?

KS: There was a community church that used the Grange Hall, I think, and everybody went to that. It wasn't just a Japanese church, it was just a community church.

DG: Who were your playmates at that time?

KS: Mostly it was...

DG: Were they Japanese?

KS: The Hirabayashis lived next door and in a sense they were playmates, I guess. We used to see them but mostly...

DG: Did you think of yourself as Japanese at that time?

KS: Yes, uh-huh, yes, I did but I was quite young at that time. We couldn't -- farms are such that in order to even see somebody in the next home, you had to walk quite a way and we were expected to stay at home. So, when you say playmates, it's your own sisters and brothers that are your playmates. I think that -- when we went to school, there were buses that took us to school and brought us home.

DG: But your social life was pretty much around your own family?

KS: Yes.

DG: And other Japanese families.

KS: Yes. The three families or four families would get together and they would meet at each other's homes and have a church service. I think either a minister from Seattle would come in and conduct a service, but there was no regular church that I can remember.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

DG: So go ahead and go on now to Seattle then.

KS: So we moved to Seattle and I think my mother was happy because the Salvation Army does evangelistic work. They get together and go down and beat the drums and give their sermon on the street. I remember going down with them and helping them beat the drums and the Salvation Army captain would play, I think it was a bugle or coronet, some kind of instrument, and he would play the songs, and there would be a gathering of people that would come to listen. But the living situation in Seattle was really quite sad. We lived up on the hill which used to be the red light district. For us children to walk to school meant about eight or ten blocks of a very bad district in Seattle. I remember my father used to walk with us every morning to school because we were afraid. School was also another very interesting experience for me. I went to school and I was in the fourth grade and found myself about one year ahead of all the youngsters in the fourth grade, so the teacher promptly skipped me to the fifth grade. During the recess when everybody was playing in the school yard, most of the children were Chinese and Japanese and they either spoke Chinese or Japanese, and I could speak neither. There might have been one or two black children and a few white children, but I don't remember making any friends. I felt like I was ostracized. And then skipping the class also made school quite difficult, but my dad decided that that was no place to raise a bunch of children so he found a little truck garden in Kingston, and moved the whole family there. And the whole family actually, if there are any roots at all, that's where they planted some roots.

DG: In Kingston?

KS: In Kingston.

DG: By then you were seven children?

KS: We were all seven children. The youngest one was about a year old when we moved to Kingston.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

DG: Tell me what your mother said later about it. [Laughs]

KS: [Laughs] Contraceptives were not even thought about in those days, nobody knew about them. But I remember many, many years later when she found out about them. She said it's too bad they weren't there when she first got married. We wouldn't be here! [Laughs] But it, Kingston was a nice place for our family to move to, because we lived near the beach and my dad would take all of us down there and said, "We're gonna have a picnic and we're gonna go swimming." So we all would pack up our food, go down to the beach, go for a swim, it was really an ideal place. There are many times that my dad used to say that he was poor in money, but he was very wealthy in having seven children who are all healthy and they could all swim! [Laughs] Anyway, it was very nice.

DG: He talked to you a lot about...

TS: Spoke English.

KS: Yes, my dad spoke very good English. He had spent twenty years in America before he even got married so he... I can't say it was the King's English, but he could speak very good English and had quite a nice personality.

DG: He always seemed to be preparing you to live...

KS: in America.

DG: Right.

KS: Yes. He had no intentions of ever going back to Japan, or... I think that as the years went by, my mother could see the possibilities of... I think at first she had many reservations about living in America. It certainly didn't answer her ambitions that she had, but...

DG: You eventually came here to go to school then?

KS: Yes, when I was in the (eighth) grade in the Kingston school. It was a small country school that had about three or four classrooms and we all doubled up. The sixth, seventh and eighth grades were all together. We were fortunate to get a good teacher who got library books from the Seattle Public Library, and I had a chance to be the school librarian. I know my mother always wanted me to go on to school and my brother to go on to school, but the teacher in this little country school is the one that actually gave me the initial push. She says, "Well, you want to go to college don't you?" Well, what's college? And so...

DG: He was hakujin?

KS: Yes.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

DG: Were there other Japanese in the community?

KS: Yeah, a few, about half a dozen families. There were no... there might have been one Japanese boy in my class, but not very many. The teacher told me that you're going to get out of the eighth grade and you have to think about high school, and the country high school that you'll go to in Poulsbo as yet does not have the subjects that you will need to go to University. So what you will have to do is either take the ferry and go to the Edmonds school every day or find some arrangement where you can go to Seattle and go to high school there. My mother had heard of this Reverend Murphy and his wife who did help quite a few Japanese gals get work in homes.

DG: What church were they associated with?

KS: She was associated with the Japanese Congregational Church, but I don't think he had any particular church that he worked with.

DG: So they helped girls.

KS: Yeah. She actually had sort of an employment agency, because the women in Seattle who needed help in their homes would call her and then she would find some Japanese girl that needed a home and place her there. I know that's how I got a place to live, and I started at Roosevelt High School and did well. Went home in the summer and helped the family. Then it was during my sophomore year that my father died, and so then it was really very sad for our family, because then I knew I could never go home again. It's just when the breadwinner is gone... so I stayed in Seattle and went to school and worked for this family, and then the year after that...

DG: You said you learned a lot of things.

KS: Oh yes. I learned how to cook and how to set a table, how to keep a house. I do thank this family because they were very good to me and I was able to go to a good school. In the next years after that, my next sister was thirteen or fourteen and she came into Seattle and worked for the lady that I worked for. Her brother and his family took my sister. And then when my next sister, it was the year after that, she came and I got her a job with one of the Clise's daughters. She had little...

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

DG: What was your brother doing all this time?

KS: He went to school in the Eugene Bible School in Oregon.

DG: For high school?

KS: No, no. He finished high school and this bible school accepted him and it was like a junior college, I guess. But he had to take subjects there before he could go to Oregon State. Was it Oregon, yeah, that's at Eugene. Anyway he wasn't able to get into a regular university but the bible school kept... I think that he had an awful hard time making a go of things because he had to find housing. There were some people that hired boys in their homes but not very many.

DG: So you could earn your way to go to school by doing housework?

KS: That's right. In those days, we were paid about ten dollars a month and that gave you some spending money.

DG: Plus you had your board and room.

KS: We got our board and room, and most of the time they were very generous about giving you clothes.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

DG: Did you have a social life at all during those times?

KS: Oh yes.

DG: Was that with the hakujins or Japanese?

KS: That's when I first started going to the Japanese Congregational Church. That's because Mrs. Murphy was connected there. She said well, you get a day off and the day off will be Sunday and you come down here and I'll bring you to church. And so I went, that's how I got started with the Japanese Congregational Church and met quite a few Japanese kids. I didn't know very many until then and they were very friendly and very nice. I went to Roosevelt where there were very few Japanese but the few that were there I got to know quite well and I even played basketball with some of them.

DG: They had a Japanese group that played basketball?

KS: The girls came from Roosevelt, Lincoln and...

DG: Who did you play?

KS: This was the Courier League. Then we'd go down to the Japanese Baptist Church and play basketball.

DG: Oh, that was...

KS: So it was...

DG: Who fed you those times?

KS: Pardon me?

DG: You didn't go out to restaurants to eat?

KS: Well, I ate where I worked.

DG: You probably couldn't afford to...

KS: Oh no, we couldn't... no, oh no, no.

DG: Did you ever go to movies or anything like that?

KS: Yes, movies were ten or fifteen cents to go to a movie. So on Sundays, which was my day off, with various friends, we'd go see a movie.


<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

KS: They were all seinenkais in those days?

TS: Yeah.

KS: I know Bellevue had one, but I'm sure it was from parental leadership that these kids all got together and...

DG: Not necessarily 'cause there was discrimination but mostly 'cause they wanted...

KS: Mostly because I think the older people wanted their kids to be together.

DG: And meet other...

KS: Meet other Japanese kids. Yes.

DG: And marry!

KS: Well, I know at first, when I first came and saw the Green Lake bunch I thought now how come it's all just Japanese kids? 'Cause in Kingston, we just all went to the Christian Church. There were Isseis there that had a little church of their own and they would conduct their services in Japanese and they built a little church.

DG: You enjoyed this atmosphere though, did you feel...

KS: Yes. In fact, I welcomed it because it was something new and I thought well, how nice and friendly. But I could see that it was an effort on the part of the parents.


<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

DG: Let's talk now about back to your early years once more and talk about your brother going back to Japan with your grandparents.

TS: My youngest brother, Hideo, was about three years old when my mother's parents, my maternal grandparents, went back to Japan to Kumamoto. At that time, we understood that they were going back to Japan for a visit and they just wanted to bring Hideo for company. But my grandparents never did return to the United States. Ultimately, since my mother was the only child in the family, the Hattori family, my brother Hideo was adopted into the Hattori family in Kumamoto and became the heir of the Hattori property in Japan. We have called Hideo (to the U.S. for a visit) after about thirty years of separation. One time during the summer vacation, because he was principal of a grade school in Japan, and he spent the summer having a reunion with us, with the family, and traveling all over the United States. Many, many times Hideo would mention that he felt very, very lonely, because he was the only one of seven children, or six brothers and sisters living in Japan during the war. He was all alone, so he felt that he had a very lonely existence. But he's doing all right.

DG: Tell us a little bit about your family and their intentions about staying here or leaving or going back to Japan.

TS: I don't recall either of my parents mentioning anything about their life in Japan, who they played with, any intention of going back to Japan. I think that my dad was the third son of Yasumatsu and Yoshino, therefore he had no claim to inheritance to property in Japan. As I understand it, the oldest in the family inherits the property and the debts, and the younger brothers have to shift for themselves. Either get jobs or go into the army, and I believe that many, many Japanese that came to the United States were in similar circumstances. If they happened to be the oldest son, they tried to make as much money as they can and they went back to claim their inheritance. I could remember clients of mine, one man who became a millionaire, who told me that he went to Alaska. The first job he had was to deliver pails of water at twenty five cents a bucket. Ultimately, he owned half of the town in which he lived in Alaska. Then he later moved to Seattle. But other wealthy clients of mine had successful businesses and they expanded and they did very well. And they may have had some notion about going back to Japan when they first came to the United States, but after they got married and started businesses and accumulated wealth, they decided they would stay. There's a certain number that went back to Japan with a big pile of loot, but mostly they established families and properties in the United States.

DG: Do you, are there other reasons, besides the fact they had families here? Was there any philosophical or political reasons that they might have chosen to stay here?

TS: I really don't know, but I suspect that every person just lives from day to day and doesn't make real plans to move unless he's highly motivated either to stay or to go back to Japan. These highly motivated individuals follow what they plan regardless of how many years, but most of us, I think, we just drift.

DG: There's a sense that there's freedom here.

TS: I think over a period of time they get to like the freedom that they had in this country.

DG: From social obligations?

TS: But nevertheless, the older generation had a high degree of sense of responsibility to the family and to the community and to their own people because they were very, very sensitive to morality and ethics. I could always remember my dad and the principal of the language school lecturing about morality and ethics and feeling of obligation to your community and family.

DG: Was there any political views as far as the United States itself goes you could think of?

TS: Only thing I could remember is that there was no definite urging of loyalty to Japan, but there definitely was a program of celebrating the Emperor's Birthday and certain traditional Japanese special days. But there was no urging, like you say, you should be loyal to the Emperor of Japan or if war should start, you should think of your country of national birth.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

DG: Let's talk about your starting or preparing for school. Had you thought about going to school from your early years?

TS: In my case, I was kind of fortunate in terms of selecting a field in which I wanted to work. I remember in the civics class my teacher in high school sponsored a mock trial in which he appointed me as one of the lawyers, as defense lawyer. I liked it and I thought I want to be a lawyer. Since I made up my mind I wanted to be a lawyer when I went to University, I registered in pre-law and for law school.

DG: Nats encouraged you?

TS: There wasn't much thinking to do about what I wanted to do.

DG: How did you think you could pay for this?

TS: I never thought about it. [Laughs] I don't know how I got through law school! I started pre and pre-law in 1934 and graduated law school in Utah in 1944.

DG: So in 1934 when you first went to school, you had to leave home.

TS: Yes.

DG: So what did you do?

TS: The first year I got a schoolboy job.

DG: Was everybody getting those kinds of jobs?

TS: No, there was a Japanese Students' Club that was paid for by community solicitations for housing for Japanese students. That house was made the central location for the activities of the Students' Club, Japanese Students' Club at University of Washington. But the first year I got a job as a house boy, school boy in (a) large, nice large home at Golden Gardens. I remember working, cleaning house and being paid something like ten dollars a month plus board and room. When I went back to school the next year, the lady (of) the house called me at the clubhouse and wanted me to go back to work. I thought as long as my dad was going to finance me that year, I decided that I didn't want to work, which was kind of selfish of me. [Laughs]

DG: But by then you were at the Students' Club?

TS: Yes, I was.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

DG: So tell me about the Students' Club.

TS: At the Students' Club we had a nice social group. We had as many as forty-five students, mostly from outside the city of Seattle, staying with...

DG: It was a house?

TS: Yes, house on 4115 15th NE, just across the campus from the University.

DG: When was it bought?

TS: I believe it was bought in mid-twenties.

DG: So you lived there and you first were an assistant, you said.

TS: I was kind of fortunate because I lived in the room occupied by another student who was either a assistant or manager of the clubhouse. Naturally we got to be good friends and pretty soon I had gotten the job as assistant, which gave me board and room as manager.

DG: Tell me a little bit about what you did as an assistant.

TS: We divided up the responsibility for forming up the students living there and to teams to wait on tables, clean, wash dishes and clean the house and so forth and so on.

DG: So you had a cook come in?

TS: We had a cook and the manager conferred with the cook to set the menu for meals and things like that.

DG: What kinds of meals did you have?

TS: It was just the usual stew, liver and of course, the students didn't like the liver but they would complain about it. We'd tell them, aw heck, it's good for you. We had pancakes and waffles for breakfast and the cook didn't care much for...

DG: Was it a Japanese cook?

TS: Japanese cook. We got by quite nicely because paying the cook and paying room and board for the assistant and the manager, the rest of the students would pay full board -- they got by with something like as low as seventeen dollars a month to twenty-two dollars a month. So it was a good deal.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

DG: So about forty students and then you had to organize the social program too?

TS: Yeah. Of course, it's a social program otherwise in conjunction with the Japanese Students' Club which had its president, vice president and officers.

DG: So the club was separate from the house itself?

TS: Yes, and the outside members (of) which we had something like 125 Japanese students so the students who lived in Seattle would come to the house to eat lunch or play poker, or bridge, or pinochle or just hang around. So it was the center of social activities.

DG: Was there any drinks?

TS: Very little, there were some. [Laughs]

DG: But you had some events, too, that you planned. What were those?

TS: We had for the Japanese Students' Club there was an annual homecoming dance and the members would invite members of the Fuyokai group, which was the women's organization, or their own girl friends. We had dance classes and dance mixers.

DG: How often were those?

TS: They were every week.

DG: Who taught these classes?

TS: The older Fuyokai girls would teach us young bucks! [Laughs]

DG: What happened during the summer? Was this house in operation then?

TS: There were just a few that went to summer school and stayed at the house and they took care of the house by themselves.

DG: So who owned the house?

TS: It was a nonprofit corporation called University Students' Club.

DG: Was that separate from the house itself and that other students club that the 100 people belong to?

TS: It had something to do with the house and the Board of Directors were composed of alumni members and officers of the Japanese Students' Club, which formed the governing Board of Directors of the University Students' Club, which owned the clubhouse. This Board set the program for how much to charge each student for rent and what to pay the cook and what to spend for repairs and maintenance of the clubhouse.

DG: So did the students themselves have responsibilities as far as cleaning and...?

TS: The day-to-day cleaning was up to the house members.

DG: And the gardening?

TS: There was very little gardening.

DG: Who washed the windows?

TS: [Laughs] I don't think anybody washed the windows, that I remember!

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

DG: So this Board that owned the building, do you know how they started it or who some of the people were that began the Students' Club?

TS: As we understood it, people, students from Japan had a hard time getting housing. Also, Japanese ancestry students from all of Seattle used to have a hard time because there was a discriminatory policy of all the fraternities for housing. The Isseis went around the entire state to solicit donations to buy property to be used for housing for the Japanese students.

DG: This is the Board of this University Students' Club? Do you think the original Board were students themselves or businessmen in the community?

TS: No, the original Board always was a combination of alumni and student officers. The original alumni members were the ones that were asked by the, or they may have been the organizers of the financial campaign but anyway the money came into the Board...

DG: Did they have a mortgage in your day, or was it paid for already?

TS: It was paid for, but because we had to fix the roof and do various capital repairs, we did have about, at about the time we sold the property we had a balance of about $3,000 or $4,000. The reason why that clubhouse was sold is because we couldn't get anybody to stay, because by the time after the war, the students came back, the fraternities and other houses opened up housing to students so there was no (housing) problem.

DG: When was it sold?

TS: In the '50s I think.

DG: Oh, that early?

TS: We sold it for about $55,000, paid about $3,000-4,000 balance on the mortgage and now it's used exclusively for scholarships. The University Students' Club Board has done a tremendous job over the years. They've given out pretty close to $200,000 in scholarships and their net assets are about $200,000.

DG: Who were some of the people that were associated with that and that you remember? You were there in '30, starting around '35, right? So probably the original people were around.

TS: I think so because I remember the alumni members of the University Students' Club were people like Tom Masuda, who was one of the first lawyers in Seattle, Bill Minbu, Juro Yoshioka, Yoshito Fujii, and a couple of others.

DG: They were the early businessmen and professional people?

TS: So the students themselves had representation on the Board of the University Students' Club and the alumni, of course, they were the same people all the time. The student members of course changed because of change in officers.


<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

DG: Kiyo, tell me a little bit about your University of Washington experience.

KS: Yes. When I was in high school, I had a wonderful home economics teacher. She used to repeat over and over again, "Kiyo, you've just got to do something for your people. I want you to get a good education and you could be a leader among them." She was very enthusiastic, and so when I entered the University, of course I expected to major in home economics, do some work in the nutrition field. And the world, I felt was limitless. And I think when I first started the University, I was quite excited. The classrooms were wonderful and the choice of subjects were just great. I majored in home economics and I did well in the classroom. Each year, the head of the home economics department would have a tea, an afternoon tea, for any of the majors, in our class, to come to her house and we would talk things over. When she had a tea this one afternoon, I went and each one of us got up and gave our little spiel about what we wanted to accomplish and what we wanted to do. When it came my turn to speak, I told her that I wanted to major in nutrition and hopefully find out new things about food which make everybody healthy. She said those are very commendable goals and she wished me lots of luck. But she didn't think that if I graduated in home economics and in nutrition that she would be able to get a job for me after I had done all my schooling. Of course I was just crushed because she was shutting the door on the future, and I was feeling very sad and it was during that time that I was taking organic chemistry and enjoyed it very much. When I went to my organic chemistry class, I was sitting there, feeling a little dejected, and the rest of the students had left the room and so the professor came up to me and said, "Well, Miss Kamikawa, what's the matter with you?" I told him well, I was a little bit distressed, because I found out that the head of the department isn't going to be able to help me at all when I finished my schooling. And he said, "Oh, that's just nonsense. Why don't you just change your major and become a chemistry major? I'll get you a job, I'll guarantee you one!" I felt so good after that, that I promptly went and changed my major so then in my sophomore year I became a chemistry major.

DG: Why did the teacher say she couldn't get you a job?

KS: Because that's the way it was. Now, every hospital has dieticians, every hotel, any institution, even airlines, hire nutritionists to plan their menus and things like that. But in those days, if there were any, they certainly didn't go to a minority.

DG: Did it have anything to with the fact that you were Japanese also?

KS: She felt it was because I was Japanese that she could never place me anyplace, yes. The chemistry professor felt that in the world of science, there was not that prejudice and if you had ability, you could get work anywhere. And this was, it was the first time really in my life that I felt there was that kind of prejudice in the world and it was a little distressing.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

DG: Tell me about your work with the YWCA.

KS: Oh, the YWCA had a campus branch and they had an executive that promoted fireside chats and little get-togethers for women. She'd have tea and cake or coffee and would get together and we'd talk about whatever we want to. If she, there were...

DG: Were there other Japanese in...?

KS: A few, a few Japanese but mostly they were... some of them were girls that I knew in high school and took part in them... They didn't join sororities or something.

DG: Was this because there were no sororities?

KS: There were sororities.

DG: No, I mean for you.

KS: No, well I couldn't afford it anyway, but they had a policy for only pledging a rather small group. In fact, even in the whole community, if you didn't belong to the right groups, you couldn't get into a sorority either. It didn't matter whether you were white, black or oriental. The sororities were a very discriminatory bunch.

DG: Did you go to the YWCA because you had friends that went there also?

KS: Yes, and I joined the Fuyokai because that had been going on at the University for, oh, a good ten years before I went. I think it was organized either in 1927 or thereabouts. 1928, maybe, a group of six Japanese women students got together and formed a...

DG: Do you know who they were?

KS: I really didn't. I only knew Kikuye Masuda. She was in the original group that I think she said she was about...

DG: Is that Tom Masuda's wife?

KS: Yes. I didn't know the other women in that group...

TS: How about Yuki Fujii?

KS: She might have been, but maybe she joined after these women formed the group, 'cause I don't remember seeing her name in that organizing group. But the Fuyokai did a tremendous service in the sense that it gave a social life to all of the (Japanese) students. Because if you didn't belong to a sorority, the Y didn't have dances or mixers or that kind of thing. It was not co-ed.

DG: But you didn't think about going out with Caucasians?

KS: No, never did. Well, I knew some and they would ask me out, but I only had so few days to go out that I just limited them to the Japanese groups that I had...

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

DG: So what was the Fuyokai doing in your years then, that was 1930...

KS: Yes, I started in '37 and it was over in '41 when we left. We had meetings once a week. Actually, most all of our activities were social. We planned dances and mixers. We also tried to have some kind of function for Girls' Day, have a tea, and invite former members of the Fuyokai to that.

DG: Where did you have these meetings?

KS: These meetings were at the Commons. The Commons is where everybody ate. They had smaller rooms there...

DG: How many of you got together?

KS: There were about maybe forty or fifty in our membership, but every week about thirty or so, we would get together and eat lunch together and have a meeting. We did have some service projects and mostly the service projects were to make some kinds of crafts things. [Laughs] I don't really remember them...

DG: To raise money for something maybe?

KS: Yes, yes. Groups would have bazaars and things, and then we would bring some little thing. The main purpose of the Fuyokai though was to provide a social outlet for the students, because... there were a few of us who once in awhile would go to the all-University dances at the pavilion, but they were not really that much fun. There were something like five or six hundred people there and it was not...

DG: Where did you have these mixers and dances?

KS: Well, that's what took planning. We would have to arrange with different hotels or different halls and ...

TS: Churches.

KS: Yeah, the mixers would be at different churches. As they needed music, we would have to arrange to have some band or some little group to come and play the music. It seems like a rather small thing for a group to do, but it was a real need to provide some social outlet for the students and we enjoyed doing it.

DG: That's where you met Toru, right?

KS: At school, yes. There were times that I know we would have style shows. As I recall, they were for the new students that were coming in, to get them acquainted with some of the activities at school.

DG: You would have a little sister or...?

KS: Oh yes.

DG: Did you have a big sister?

KS: I had a big sister when I first came to school.

DG: Who was that?

KS: I think Michi Yasumura was my big sister.

DG: Lillian tells me you were her big sister or something.

KS: [Laughs] I was quite a few! Every year, the upper classmen get 'em. When I went to school, there were quite a few, so we ran out of upper classmen and some of us who were sophomores were big sisters to the freshmen. But it was a nice group and we had a good time.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

DG: Let's talk about back to the build up towards World War II. Were you aware of any of the political atmosphere of the time?

KS: The only time we heard news or saw news was occasionally we'd go to a movie and there would be the Fox Movietone News, and some of those showed the Hitler advances in Europe and their associations with Japan. So I think, generally speaking, we were aware that there was a build up towards war and we were hoping that America would never have to go to war. But I remember in November of '41, I was taking a class in International Relations and the professor at that time was Professor George Taylor. He tried to make us aware of the possibilities of a conflict between Japan and America, and of course all of us in the classroom kept saying, oh no, we can't do it, we just can't. But, I remember in the last week in November, he paced back and forth in front of the class and he said, "Within two weeks, war is going to break out." So people who were in the know, knew this was coming. What a horrible thing to know something like this is coming. Sure enough, on December 7th, Japan attacked.

DG: And where were you?

KS: I was just finishing up my classes and deciding I'd better quit school.

TS: That was Sunday.

KS: That was Sunday. Well, school ended I think about the 10th of December, that was the first quarter, and I had put in my registration for the winter quarter but I went back to the registration and cancelled it so I wouldn't have to go back to school.

DG: Why did you do that?

KS: Well... I felt that, I would have to work very hard during the Christmas vacation to save up the rest of my money for the next quarter's tuition and it just seemed a little pointless. We didn't know at that time whether we were going to have a job the next week or not because...

DG: So you were impacted as a Japanese person?

KS: That's right. When I was working, I didn't know whether I was going to get fired next week or not.

DG: Where were you working?

KS: I was working for a Swiss family after school and also at the Women's University Club.

DG: Were there some bad feelings toward Japanese? Is that why you had these feelings?

KS: I don't think they were so much in the way of bad feelings, except that there was the feeling that you could get fired any day. It turned out...

DG: Well, how did you know that? Were you talking to your friends?

KS: Yes, I was talking to my friends and the whole climate of Seattle, knowing that people were at war, there was this anti-Japanese feeling that just went around. How could they do that? It was hard to figure.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

DG: What were you doing, Toru, when the war started?

TS: I went to the law library and in the morning on Sunday and all of a sudden over the radio I heard that Pearl Harbor was under attack and that President Roosevelt was going to declare war. So I just left the law library, packed up my stuff at the J.S.C. and went home.

DG: Why would you do that? What were you thinking?

KS: Well, your dad was in...

TS: My dad was in California traveling on business and I felt that I had to be at home.

DG: What were your thoughts about...? Did you know the war was going to start? Did you talk about it?

TS: I didn't see Kiyo, I don't think...

DG: What made you, like Kiyo, you had to get home. What was the...?

TS: The first thing found out when I got home was that my dad had been picked up by FBI. After a few days, we found out that he was being detained in San Francisco. I didn't see that he did anything wrong to be held by the FBI. I thought, "Well I'd just take the bus and go down to San Francisco and meet him and pick him up and drive home." But I found out my dad was being transferred to Missoula the next morning. I was the only person who was notified of that transfer, so I managed to get down to the train station to meet him and I was the only person that met any of the internees. We just shook hands and cried a little bit and he told me that the car was up in Eureka and then I took a bus back to Eureka. I arrived there on the Sunday.

DG: Was there any problems getting gas?

TS: No, I took a bus from San Francisco to Eureka. My father was arrested near Eureka and the car put into storage (by) the Eureka Sheriff's office. I registered in a hotel and at that time I could hear news reports of Manila being bombed. So I got into my room, and after awhile I it was time to go to bed. I pushed all the movable furniture against the door! [Laughs] I went to sleep and nothing happened, of course.

DG: You had the feeling that you needed...

TS: Yeah! No use taking chances. On Monday, (I) went to the Sheriff's office and picked up the car and drove home.

DG: So once again, you didn't have any problems getting gas?

TS: No, no, but...

DG: Did they make comments?

TS: No, no problems.

DG: There's other occasions where I had some uncles who...

TS: Well, then, as I indicated, my Uncle Dan, who was twelve years older than me but the youngest brother in my father's family, and I took my dad's Buick and we drove to Fort Missoula. We had no problems getting gas or food or... we stopped at one place just before we got to Missoula. I told Dan, "Let's get a shave and clean up before we go to Missoula." I remember getting to the chair and the barber starts to put soap on and he says, "By the way, what are you?" And I told him I was of Japanese ancestry and I'm an American citizen. He says, "I can't touch you." So (that was "it"). We just walked out. Then we stopped on the highway near the entrance to the road leading to Fort Missoula. We ate some bento that my mother had fixed and went to see my father. Of course when my dad saw his big brand new Buick, he put his hand on it like you see an old friend, and all we could do was to say "hello" and "take care" and then we left. But a few days after we got back, I got called in by the FBI to the office and the agent says, "You were observed near the entrance to Fort Missoula." I said, "Sure, we had lunch." He says, "You were observed taking pictures of Fort Missoula," and I said, "Nothing doing. We didn't do anything of the sort all we did was went to see my dad." Then I told him well you could check with my uncle and he will tell you the same story and that was the end of it. But obviously, every service station that we stopped they reported that two Japanese driving a black Buick was through there and even at the entrance of Fort Missoula. So people were very, very sensitive.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

DG: So then you went back and then what happened?

TS: Back home.

DG: You were home, you were getting ready, did you know...?

TS: After that we heard about possible evacuation and exclusion, an emergency meeting of JACL (was called) down in San Francisco and (I went with) the delegation from Puyallup. Puyallup and Tacoma chapters went down to the emergency Council meeting. There we found out that (there was) nothing we could do. It was already decided to exclude us; there's no question about it. So the main thing, the main subject of discussion was what to do. The decision of the National Council that time was to help our people comply with the exclusion order.

DG: What were your feelings? Did you go along with this or did you have any thoughts about it?

TS: We were informed that we couldn't do anything. We raised the issue of having military emergency declared instead of exclusion, where everybody would be under the control of military but there wouldn't be any exclusion order. They (said), "No chance."

DG: This was in December still or January?

TS: It was January or February. No, it was in March.

DG: No, it couldn't have been.

TS: No, February because Kiyo and I were planning to get married in February, I think, and this emergency meeting came and she got madder 'n hell at my (breaking our wedding date). [Laughs] Then we postponed it to March 15th.


<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

DG: Where did you go Kiyo?

KS: I had an apartment with my two sisters and...

DG: In Seattle?

KS: In Seattle, yes. I didn't get fired like I thought I might be and continued to work. And because it was near the Christmas season, the Women's University Club had many festivities already planned, war or no war, these parties were already (scheduled). So my sister and I were very busy fixing food and working there. After the holidays, there was a group called the Tolan committee that was supposed to have had hearings all up and down the coast. They had hearings down in Los Angeles, San Francisco and they were going to have one in Seattle so we contacted as many of our friends that we could who would testify before the committee that the Japanese do not need to be excluded from the West Coast, that we were all loyal American citizens.

DG: Who notified you about these hearings?

KS: They were in the papers.

DG: Where were they held?

KS: They were held in Justice Courts in California, because the one in Seattle was in the Federal Building.

DG: What was the, in the news at that time?

KS: Guadalcanal, and the Americans were losing the war at that time. The news on the war was very... Manila was invaded and...

DG: So at that same time, Toru you were in Eureka and heard that news about the war, right?

TS: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 30>

DG: Why would you go to Missoula to see your father?

TS: I hadn't seen him for a long time. After the war he was immediately interned. But I felt, we felt that my dad was not guilty of anything, and also why should they hold him, so we talked to a few of our hakujin friends and I just said, I want to go see my father, see if I can get him out but it wasn't that simple.

KS: And bring him home.

DG: Were you starting to be aware... weren't there restrictions? Could you travel?

KS: Not then, not then.

TS: Not then but I think there was no travel restrictions when that emergency meeting was held. But after that, to get married, people who attended our wedding in Tacoma had to get travel clearances.

DG: How did you plan the wedding?

KS: Very quickly! [Laughs]

DG: By phone?

KS: Just about.

TS: We didn't have very many people.

KS: We couldn't. I had two friends of mine who were my maid of honor.

DG: Why did you start planning a wedding?

KS: Because we knew we were going to be evacuated and people were going to be evacuated according to where they lived. Everybody had to be with their own families and my family was in Kingston, and I hadn't been living with them for quite a long time, but they were still there. And if I was going to be evacuated, I would be evacuated with the Kamikawas and by then, we knew that they were going to be going down to Pinedale, California and the people in the...

DG: What month are we talking about? January?

KS: February, and we knew that people around Fife, which is not Tacoma, were going to Puyallup along with the Seattle bunch and we could foresee a separation. We had been engaged since long before, the Fall before, and we were going to get married when he finished law school, which was the next June. But it just meant that well, we were going to, we could get married now or just forget it for quite a long time. We didn't know how long. At that time, there were a few of my friends that were going to drive to Pullman and get into Western, I mean Washington State. So I told Toru that either I go with them and we just hold, not get married for a while, or let's get married now and I'll just forget about going to Washington State or any place, wherever. It took a little... [Laughs] A few telephone calls but we decided to get married anyway. So we set the date for, I think it was about the last week in February, and then the emergency meeting in California came up so he went down to California and I thought, "Oh my, we're not going to get married it looks like!" [Laughs]

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 31>

DG: So you had been active in JACL before that?

TS: I was a member of the Puyallup chapter.

DG: When did you join that?

TS: Oh, several years I think, before.

DG: What kind of activities... oh, you said that Farmers' Association changed to the JACL later.

TS: No, I think the Farmers' Association sponsored the Seinenkai, the youth groups which was, went into sports and things like that and socials, and that developed into the Puyallup Valley JACL.

DG: What were their activities in those early...?

TS: Mostly social.

DG: Then why would they need a JACL then? You had the Seinenkai.

TS: Because the JACL had a loyalty program.

KS: Yeah.

DG: What was that?

TS: To become good United States citizens. [Laughs]

DG: Why did they have such a thing?

TS: That goes back to the beginnings of JACL, and there's guys like Jimmy Sakamoto and Clarence Arai and Tuck Nogaki and all those people that started a Citizens League. Basically, I think Japanese have a innate desire to serve their community and this is part of it. Even if the program of the group itself may be just social, they have a feeling that, "I'm a member of a loyalty group." And that was constant... and besides, what else is there to do, besides socials? Until the war breaks out and then there's some real issues that start coming up, you know? So the...

DG: Why did you join?

TS: Because I'm a joiner, I guess, basically.

DG: With some friends?

TS: Uh-huh.

KS: All that and I think by then people looked to Toru for leadership.

DG: Because you said you organized something else earlier, some conferences.

TS: Well, yeah.

KS: He was on the organizing committee for that, you were very young, but you were.

TS: I remember being invited to make a talk before the young Christian group that had a gathering at some beach. I wrote a long, impetuous dissertation on leadership and community obligations and so forth and so on. The leadership group in Seattle happened to be at this leadership... and so when I went to school in '34, I naturally joined a Methodist Seattle group and from there the organization of different young peoples groups and different churches formed a conference sponsor...

DG: Called the YPCC.

TS: They elected me General Chairman of that '36 Conference that was held at the University Christian Church.

<End Segment 31> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 32>

DG: So, back to the JACL now. That was a loyalty group

TS: Uh-huh.

DG: So did you have some meetings right after Pearl Harbor, or before, or anytime around there that you remember?

TS: I don't remember much about those meetings. Very few meetings.

DG: But why did you go then to the National Conference?

TS: Because the National was asking delegates from each chapter and the Puyallup Valley chapter, they asked me to join, to go down too...

DG: What did you think you were going to go down for?

TS: On the way down we were talking about raising hell about being evacuated, and demanding that the military authorities declare emergency and assume control of all civilians so that it wouldn't be necessary for us to evacuate.

DG: Did you know Gordon Hirabayashi at that time from the U?

TS: Yes.

DG: Were you aware of what he was doing?

TS: No.

KS: He wasn't at that time. It was when they had the exclusion order, not the exclusion, the...

TS: Curfew.

KS Curfew. You couldn't get out.

DG: When was the curfew started?

KS: I think about first part of March. You couldn't be out on the street after eight o'clock .

TS: February or March.

KS: Last of February or first of March. Gordon would know because he defied it. He was just a student at the University and so it was late and he wanted to go down to the Ave and get a bite to eat. He's going to go down there and get a bite to... it was almost as simple as that. And then when he... because as an American citizen, that was a real asinine thing to even comply with let alone...

DG: But you complied without any problem?

TS: Well, sure. Because in order to get married in Tacoma, she had to get permission to drive.

KS: Travel.

<End Segment 32> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 33>

DG: How did you get around in those days? You had a car?

KS: I didn't have a car but this gal who was my bridesmaid, she had a car and she drove the other gal and myself to Tacoma where we got married. That was the thing that was a little (odd). They didn't stop cars. I'm sure a lot of people went out in their cars, but I think as a general rule, I would say that the Japanese people did not want to do anything to get the whole community riled up against them. Because here they were fighting a war and America was losing. That's all they needed was somebody who was breaking even a stupid law.

DG: So did you hear about Gordon?

KS: Oh yeah, oh yes.

DG: Were you upset?

KS: Well, I remember thinking, well it's just like him to do something like that. He's got (courage). Knowing him, I just felt well, it's just like him to do something like that. And once he did, he had to stick to his guns and it was a rough go for him. He got put in jail, he had to be a conscientious objector and do all kinds of things to...

DG: Did you think it was good that he did that or did you think he was kind of silly?

KS: Actually, I kind of admired the guts that he had to do it. But I sure glad I wasn't in love with Gordon! [Laughs] I felt sorry for his girlfriend if he had one. I doubt if he had one at that time.

DG: It wasn't that long after that he married...

KS: Floyd Schmoe's...? Well no, it was quite a bit after.

DG: Oh, it was.

<End Segment 33> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 34>

DG: Okay, back to the JACL conference, so you found out you couldn't do anything, so what were you talking about on the way home?

TS: Very little.

DG: What did you think you had to do?

TS: All we did was do a little cussing! [Laughs]

KS: They had to make plans for getting rid of their lease that they were... most of them had farms in lease and they had farms...

TS: We were told that you'd be guilty of sabotage if you didn't put your crops in, so we put in our crops, but it was kind of lucky in a way, because when the Filipinos bought our farm equipment and crops, when my dad got out he had several thousand dollars in his checking account.

DG: So you started selling your stuff.

TS: Yeah, well, it was sold in one sale, the truck, crops and equipment.

DG: Car?

TS Truck and car, yeah. But, it was... you know, in those days you could buy a Buick for eight or nine hundred dollars, so he got several thousand bucks for it -- it was not bad. If we didn't have our crops in, we had hardly anything to sell.

DG: So you got married and then what did you do?

KS: I worked until the last possible day.

TS: Then we got married, then you moved in.

KS: Yes, and then I... we lived with his mother and two sisters and a couple of brothers.

DG: Until the evacuation?

TS: Until the farm crops...

KS: Were sold.

TS: Were sold. Then we moved into the residence of my friend, Kinoshita, and we stayed there for about a month.

KS: Just about, not quite a month. It was really two weeks. I think it was the first of March, no, no, no, first of April or May. I know we lived in your house. When you turn over a crop, it was the first of the month and I must have turned the crops over at the first of May. We were evacuated on the fifteenth of May, so it was two weeks where we literally didn't have any place to live, and we stayed with the Kinoshitas. Can you imagine there were two, four, there were five of us in two bedrooms in the Kinoshita's house?

TS: Besides the Kinoshitas.

DG: You obviously didn't have a honeymoon or anything?!

KS: We went to Tacoma for two days! [Laughs] But it sort of prepared us for camp living! [Laughs]

<End Segment 34> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 35>

DG: Were you starting to pack and what did you have to do?

KS: We had to pack all of our stuff. We were told we could carry one duffel bag per person so into one duffel bag went some bedding and our clothes. Then the other duffel bag took our books and some of our precious things, a few wedding presents that we got. Oh gosh, fortunately most of our wedding presents were like ten dollar bills, which was nice. But a few little trinkets like clocks and dishes and plates and things like that that just couldn't give them away or throw them away! [Laughs] I'd pack them in the duffel bag in between towels and sheets and things.

TS: Into Area B.

KS: Into Area B in Puyallup.

DG: So did you drive there?

KS: I think his brother, Hippo had somebody drive us there, who had a truck.

TS: I don't remember whether it was on our farm truck or what.

KS: Some of their friends in Fife took us down to Puyallup. We weren't, didn't have to do the indignity of going down to the King Street Station and packed into trains! [Laughs]

<End Segment 35> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.